Health & Fitness
Alert: You’re Pushing Yourself Too Hard
By Ethan Boldt
You’ve seen commercials that feature athletes grunting through pain as if it’s a virtue. You’ve watched sports icons lead their teams to unbelievable comebacks on their seemingly inexhaustible shoulders. You’ve seen veins popping on the grimacing faces of those on “World’s Strongest Men” and Tour de France riders alike.
It’s not just macho to push yourself to the limit -- it’s considered cool. But how do you know if you’re about to take your body beyond that limit and into dangerous territory? Especially in hot weather, there are risks you should you know about. As long as you can read your body’s signs, you can prepare for pushing it without going over the top. Here, your body’s warning signs and what to do about ‘em:
Warning 1: You Stop Sweating
What to do: In such a case, “Stop working out immediately, hydrate and cool off. Go somewhere air-conditioned, splash water on you, get in front of a fan, use an ice pack on your head.” Avoid overheating when you’re training outside in hot or humid weather by going out in the morning or evening for more effective, less risky workouts.
Warning 2: Your Urine Isn’t Clear
What to do: Go-to drinks should contain electrolytes with essential elements like sodium, potassium and magnesium. While sports drinks can be a boon for hot outdoor workouts, Phillips urges that you avoid energy drinks, which may push your heart rate too high. Oh, and water’s good!
Warning 3: Your Resting Heart Rate Is High
What to do: During cardio workouts, make sure you use a heart rate monitor. Phillips advises that you never go over 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. (This can be calculated by subtracting your age from the number 220. To calculate 90 percent of that, multiply by 0.9.) And on days when you wake up with a resting heart rate that is higher than normal, your body is telling you that it needs more recovery. Listen and take the day off.
Warning 4: You’re Still Sore
What to do: Get your z’s. Says Seabourne: Seven to eight hours of sleep is needed for an adequate release of growth hormone to build and repair muscle. When working out, err on the side of intensity over volume. Phillips says a couple of heavy sets for each muscle group is plenty. As “for cardio, I'd rather have someone do 20 to 30 minutes of high-intensity intervals than an hour of lower intensity work.” Also, consider working out with a partner, who can keep an eye on you (and vice versa).
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Ethan Boldt writes for such magazines as Men's Health, Self, Fitness and Maximum Fitness. A former certified personal trainer, Boldt co-authored 5-Factor Fitness with celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak.
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